Extraordinary pace with which ED arrests accused, but slower than snail in conducting trials: Court

A special court in Mumbai on Wednesday said that the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) speed in arresting accused is “extraordinary” but it is slower than a snail when conducting trials. The observation was made in the 122-page order that granted bail to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.

“I am constrained to note that not a single trial right from the establishment of this designated court, the ED has concluded by leading evidence and the court could not give a single judgment right from the last decade,” said M G Deshpande, the special judge, designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The court said that a detailed report was submitted to the principal judge of the Mumbai city civil and sessions court “regarding such modus operandi availed by the ED in conducting trials”. It added that when an explanation is sought from the ED on the delay in trials, the officers say that further investigation is on. The court said that even in cases where trials have begun, the pace of recording of evidence is slow. “In this way, the extraordinary pace with which ED arrests accused becomes not even a snail speed in conducting trials. It appears that ED knows only sections 19 (power to arrest) and 45 (offences to be cognizable and non-bailable) of the PML Act, but forgets that there is a provision for trial of an offence under PML Act as per Section 44 (offences triable by special courts) thereof,” the court added.

“It is unfortunate that even this court is forgetting that evidence has to be recorded, trials have to be conducted and judgments are to be delivered even in the PMLA special cases. There is absolutely not a single judgment after a complete trial in this court right from the beginning and during the tenure of my all learned Predecessors. Is ED not accountable for such modus operandi availed by them in not beginning and concluding a single trial?” it further said.

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